Art Gallery Donates $40K for Conservation

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Artwork at Harbor Gallery’s Wood Show. Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center.

Art Gallery owners Elli and Gunner Mench have donated over $40,000 in proceeds since 2009 to support The Kohala Center’s Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) program.

The couple’s Harbor Gallery in Kawaihae curates a wood show twice a year featuring works of art made with locally-grown materials, and ten percent of proceeds from this event benefit KWP.

“I would love to teach more local business owners how to do this because it’s not something that’s been detrimental to our business whatsoever,” Gunner Mench said. “We’re giving back to replenish and create more native forest and heal our island’s environment, which is where our interest lies.


The donations have supported the preservation of Pelekane Bay, mitigating sediment runoff as part of an erosion control program on the leeward side of Kohala Mountain.

“We’ve seen the forest continue to grow and thrive and seen the resulting erosion control,” Mench said. “As long as KWP can keep doing what they’re doing I don’t expect we’ll have these runoff problems in 20 years.”

Mench has been passionate about environmental issues and conservation efforts since 1970, when he and several students and teachers organized some of the very first curriculums for environmental studies. He has served on the Kawaihae Local Resource Council and participated in talks with the Army Corps of Engineers in the cleanup and restoration of Pelekane Bay.  


“Individual and private donations like the ones we receive from Gunner and Elli Mench are critical in supplying us with not only funding for materials and supplies, but with essential capital that enables us to compete for grants that require us to bring matching funds to the table,” said Cody Dwight, coordinator of The Kohala Center’s Kohala Watershed Partnership program. “We are humbled and honored by their generosity, which makes it possible for us to restore and protect Kohala’s watersheds, native forests, and leeward coastline. By investing in conservation efforts, they’re investing in Hawai‘i’s future.”

Harbor Gallery owners Elli and Gunner Mench. Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center.

The Kohala Center has a four-person field crew that checks dams, manages invasive species, and plants native trees and shrubs in restoration areas to revive the Kohala’s native forests.

“As I see it we’re investing in long-term restoration to bring nature back into balance here in our little corner of the world,” said Mench. “I may not be able to do it for the whole world, but darn it we can contribute to doing it right here on Kohala Mountain.”


The Harbor Gallery’s 2017 Winter Wood Show is currently on exhibit now through Feb.18. The gallery is open daily from 11:30–8:30 p.m. and is located in the Kawaihae Harbor Shopping Center at 61-3665 Akoni Pule Highway.

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